A transparent animal control bylaw

·2 min read

Strathmore Town Council has amended its animal control bylaw to be more transparent regarding penalties for the behaviour of aggressive dogs.

Mark Pretzlaff with town administration presented to council at the June 15 regular meeting to bring back the proposal for amendment, following its introduction to the Committee of the Whole on June 8.

“The existing animal control bylaw does not include a list of penalties for various things such as vicious dogs, (lacking) a license, and things like that,” said Pretzlaff. “In light of that, we brought this to council last week for their consideration … we are hoping at this time that we can amend the bylaw just to include the penalties and fines at this time.”

The idea is to be able to give bylaw and municipal enforcement staff an opportunity to enforce the fines if necessary and grant a better understanding that education to residents and ratepayers is the first priority.

Administration would also have a more adequate amount of time to fully vet the bylaw, as it is, according to Pretzlaff, quite dated, and will eventually need to undergo more significant updates.

Currently in Strathmore, a vicious dog biting or injuring a person comes with a first penalty of $1,500, and a second penalty of $3,000. These penalties were implemented based on existing bylaws of and are in line with other similar municipalities.

Councillor Richard Wegener expressed that he feels the fines currently detailed are light and could do to be raised for those with an aggressive dog.

“As I look at that and realize the kind of damage that can be done, especially if young children are involved, I just don’t think those penalties are high enough,” said Wegener, who cited his awareness of a person who had been attacked by a dog in their youth that resulted in lifelong mental trauma, as comprising some of the basis for his opinion.

Councillor Denise Peterson reminded council that the animal control bylaw does not include any potential resulting civil or criminal charges, which may be handed down to the owner of an animal deemed vicious that attacks another person.

Wegener specified he would not be putting forward a motion to make another amendment to the bylaw while it was under discussion before council.

An amendment was brought forward to change all references of “dog” specifically within the bylaw to “animal” in order to broaden the definition of what is libel under the bylaw.

Instead of “vicious dog,” the bylaw would refer directly to any “vicious animal” that has, without provocation, chased, attacked or bitten an animal or person. This motion was ultimately defeated.

The amendment to add the penalties to be written directly into the bylaw was passed unanimously.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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